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Peter Ruff and the Double Four   By: (1866-1946)

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PETER RUFF AND THE DOUBLE FOUR

By E. Phillips Oppenheim

CONTENTS

BOOK ONE

CHAPTER

I INTRODUCING MR. PETER RUFF

II A NEW CAREER

III VINCENT CAWDOR, COMMISSION AGENT

IV THE INDISCRETION OF LETTY SHAW

V DELILAH FROM STREATHAM

VI THE LITTLE LADY FROM SERVIA

VII THE DEMAND OF THE DOUBLE FOUR

VIII MRS. BOGNOR'S STAR BOARDER

IX THE PERFIDY OF MISS BROWN

X WONDERFUL JOHN DORY

BOOK TWO

I RECALLED BY THE DOUBLE FOUR

II PRINCE ALBERT'S CARD DEBTS

III THE AMBASSADOR'S WIFE

IV THE MAN FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT

V THE FIRST SHOT

VI THE SEVEN SUPPERS OF ANDREA KORUST

VII MAJOR KOSUTH'S MISSION

VIII THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN

IX THE GHOSTS OF HAVANA HARBOR

X THE AFFAIR OF AN ALIEN SOCIETY

XI THE THIRTEENTH ENCOUNTER

BOOK ONE

CHAPTER I. INTRODUCING MR. PETER RUFF

There was nothing about the supper party on that particular Sunday evening in November at Daisy Villa, Green Street, Streatham, which seemed to indicate in any way that one of the most interesting careers connected with the world history of crime was to owe its very existence to the disaster which befell that little gathering. The villa was the residence and also to his credit the unmortgaged property of Mr. David Barnes, a struggling but fairly prosperous coal merchant of excellent character, some means, and Methodist proclivities. His habit of sitting without his coat when carving, although deprecated by his wife and daughter on account of the genteel aspirations of the latter, was a not unusual one in the neighbourhood; and coupled with the proximity of a cold joint of beef, his seat at the head of the table, and a carving knife and fork grasped in his hands, established clearly the fact of his position in the household, which a somewhat weak physiognomy might otherwise have led the casual observer to doubt. Opposite him, at the other end of the table, sat his wife, Mrs. Barnes, a somewhat voluminous lady with a high colour, a black satin frock, and many ornaments. On her left the son of the house, eighteen years old, of moderate stature, somewhat pimply, with the fashion of the moment reflected in his pink tie with white spots, drawn through a gold ring, and curving outwards to seek obscurity underneath a dazzling waistcoat. A white tube rose in his buttonhole might have been intended as a sort of compliment to the occasion, or an indication of his intention to take a walk after supper in the fashionable purlieus of the neighbourhood. Facing him sat his sister a fluffy haired, blue eyed young lady, pretty in her way, but chiefly noticeable for a peculiar sort of self consciousness blended with self satisfaction, and possessed only at a certain period in their lives by young ladies of her age. It was almost the air of the cat in whose interior reposes the missing canary, except that in this instance the canary obviously existed in the person of the young man who sat at her side, introduced formally to the household for the first time. That young man's name was at the moment Mr. Spencer Fitzgerald.

It seems idle to attempt any description of a person who, in the past, had secured a certain amount of fame under a varying personality; and who, in the future, was to become more than ever notorious under a far less aristocratic pseudonym than that by which he was at present known to the inhabitants of Daisy Villa. There are photographs of him in New York and Paris, St. Petersburg and Chicago, Vienna and Cape Town, but there are no two pictures which present to the casual observer the slightest likeness to one another. To allude to him by the name under which he had won some part, at least, of the affections of Miss Maud Barnes, Mr. Spencer Fitzgerald, as he sat there, a suitor on probation for her hand, was a young man of modest and genteel appearance... Continue reading book >>




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